A stirring tale of disaster and human resourcefulness, William Manchee’s Tarizon: The Liberator draws upon a centuried tradition of science fiction as a vessel for Big Ideas and bold speculation. The Dallas-based author achieves an original voice in the process of channeling such (evident) influences from the last two centuries as Jules Verne, Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Fritz Leiber.
Tarizon is a planet in peril: Volcanic eruptions have distorted the global environment to a point where the dominant human species must accept mere survival as the best likely outcome. The government of Tarizon proposes a secretive exchange with Earth — the United States, in particular.
Tarizon proposes to share its technological advancements if the Earth-folk will agree to mate with the Tarizonians in the aim of producing a more resilient species. A young Earth-dweller named Turner discovers the alien infiltration, whereupon the visitors abduct Turner to Tarizon. Though considered a prisoner, Turner impresses an influential group as a legendary savior — long promised, and long denied.
Turner settles in to find the natural devastation almost mild by comparison with political treacheries that threaten to flood Tarizon with futile warfare. Throughout, Manchee strikes a suspenseful balance between high adventure and social-reform allegory, particularly in a struggle over whether “human” rights should be extended to various inhuman populations.
One is tempted to draw comparisons with E.R. Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars tales, but Manchee raises the stakes significantly with the cautionary tone of social criticism. Real-world earthbound parallels are patent, but the brisk pacing and vivid characterizations keep the story cracking along at a precipitous pace. Morality fables seldom come so packed with excitement and almost participatory immediacy.